From the first experiments with no-wave art-punk at the turn of the millennium, San Francisco’s Numbers continues their sonic evolution of minimalism, noise, and pop. Now You Are This picks up where 2005’s We’re Animals left off, going further into a drone-fueled muscular krautrock sound, but still carrying a strong pop sensibility. The songs are minimal and epic at the same time; powerful, blunt guitar riffs, insistent drumming, and tense slabs of analog synthesizers. There isn’t an easy comparison for the dire poise of this record, a secret pact between beauty and fear, pure tone and white noise: The futuristic propulsion of Kraftwerk, the taut structures of Wire, the strange beauty of Eno, filtered through the raw-knuckled roughness of Suicide?
The most disquieting aspect of the songs is their deceptive charm; thirteen tracks of dazed and charged near-collapse that unexpectedly catch in your mind, echoing their haunted buzz for days and weeks after the record ends. Not since The Sliver Apples has a band so successfully wedded a cacophony of electronic keyboards with such clear-voiced pop. A significant part of this catchiness lies in the traditional chord structures and vocals; Indra’s floating, hypnotic singing, Dave and Eric’s timeless harmonies.
This weave of simple, strong vocals lends a poignant, unflinching guide to the persistent, swirling sound of the record. Amid the tumultuous waves of sound that drive the last minutes of the record, the world seems to fall away in the face of a voice asking, “what happened to you… what happened to me?” Numbers draw a line from the simplicity and honest clarity of traditional American music like the Carter Family through the troubled pounding of today, creating an appropriately dark vision of tomorrow’s pop music.